Around midnight six days every week, Ralph Spriggs drives up to the deserted Town Square Center in Copperas Cove. At this hour, parking spaces are easy to find, and he passes by the darkened storefronts, stopping on the west side at a small shop.
Unlocking the door and turning on the lights, Spriggs sets about creating what a customer calls “can’t live without” breads and pastries.
Heidi’s German Bakery was established in the 1990s.
“I bought out my boss in 1997,” Spriggs said. “He was a master baker from Germany, and I learned a lot from him.”
Baking seems to run in the family: Spriggs’ mother has cooked for one pope and other notables, including Ronald Reagan.
“I was born in Germany,” Spriggs said,
“and this is old-school German baking. Everything is by scratch and we even make our own cream cheese.”
He loads loafs of Swiss Butter Bread, “extremely popular; I’ve baked it since day one,” into a gigantic 8-foot tall Macadams flat deck oven with his wife, Christina, pitching in.
Two separate ovens for pastries share the back room.
The bakery’s signature delicate puff pastries are prepared with the help of a formidable machine that assists Spriggs as he produces the thin layers that will end up as croissants, cinnamon rolls, danishes and more.
“Butter — that explains it,” Spriggs said when asked why his pastries taste better. “And absolutely no preservatives,” he adds, pointing out that many of the shop’s customers are sophisticated bakers themselves. “They know the work that goes into (baking) the bread.”
Moving deftly between the mixers, ovens and refrigerators, Spriggs handles his tools and ingredients with a sure touch. The bakery’s floors, equipment and tables appear spotless, and, sure enough, a framed 2012 certificate from the Copperas Cove Health Department proclaims Heidi’s German Bakery was awarded a perfect score of 100.
When the shop opens at 7 a.m., a tired but satisfied Spriggs usually heads for home, with one of two employees manning the display counter in the front room.
This early weekday morning finds B.J. Evans of Copperas Cove, “I’m a regular customer,” purchasing some pastries.
“I spent 17 years in Germany and Heidi’s is pretty authentic to the original,” he said.
Wilma Cordero, originally from Fulda, Germany, is a new resident to the Killeen area. “I heard about Heidi’s from my daughter. I’m back for the second time in one week,” Cordero said. As she leans across the counter, Cordero speaks in German to employee Carola Learn. “It’s delicious.”